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Italian unions clash over Fiat strike

by Bill Cawthon on

On Tuesday, Giusepi Farina, Secretary General of the Italian labor union FIM-CISL, described the eight-hour strike called by FIOM, the militant Italian metalworkers union, “Incomprehensible” and accused FIOM of grandstanding.

In Rome for a FIM-CISL conference, Farina said he believes the strike is a choice his group cannot share, adding that since FIOM called the strike without consulting FIM-CISL, it is looking out for itself, not the employees.

Farina was also critical of FIOM for presenting the new Pomigliano agreement as a “bogeyman” when in reality it offers greater flexibility and better wages for workers and that he thinks FIOM’s problem is not with the contract, but with Fiat management, which as stood up to the politically powerful union.

Farina did say that Fiat must soon shed light on the future of its Italian factories: “…the problem remains that we expect greater clarity from Fiat on future Fabbrica Italia investments and establishing better union relationships to manage this project….”

“I think,” Farina added, “that this is the time to ask for a meeting on the development of factories in Italy which is the real bet: we accepted Marchionne’s challenge and signed agreements because we are interested in seeing Marchionne spend every last euro of the 20 billion he has pledged to invest. ”

Criticism of the FIOM action also came from the Robert Santarelli, Director General of Federmeccanica, the Italian Federation of Metalworking Industries, an industry trade group.

“Strikes are never good for anyone,” said Santarelli. “The issues are not resolved at the level of conflict.”

Note: FIM=Italian Federation of Metal Workers and Mechanics; CISL=Italian Confederation of Trade Unions.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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